New military assets boost AFP capabilities

National, News

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief, Gen. Gilbert Gapay has acknowledged the government’s strong support to the ongoing AFP Modernization Program which he said is of great help in defending the country’s sovereignty and defeating terrorist groups.

“We cannot stress the importance of being well-equipped as we face all these adversaries in our territorial defense, counter-insurgency efforts, including humanitarian response. Enhancing our capabilities in terms of equipment and assets gives us the motivation and preparedness to overcome these challenges,” Gapay said in a statement.

The AFP has recently took possession of some of its recent acquisitions include six units of Super Tucano A-29B made by Brazil’s Embraer SA, for the Philippine Air Force (PAF) to beef up its North American OV-10 “Bronco” and SIAI-Marchetti SF-260 attack planes of its 15th Strike Wing.

The first four Super Tucanos arrived in Clark Air Base, Angeles City, Pampanga last September 19 while the remaining two landed last  October 1.

Embraer company pilots flew the aircraft from Sao Paulo, Brazil, and made fueling stops in the Canary Islands, Portugal, Malta, Egypt, Bangladesh, the United Arab Emirates, India, Thailand, and Vietnam before landing in the Philippines.

Defense spokesperson Arsenio Andolong earlier said Embraer pilots will train PAF pilots selected to fly the “Super Tucano” for two months as part of the agreement under the Technical Inspection and Acceptance Committee.

The A-29s were earlier scheduled to be delivered by the end of July but the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent travel bans have skewed the delivery timetables. At least 14 air forces around the globe use the “Super Tuscano”  which has electro-optical infrared and laser-firing technology there deemed beneficial in counterinsurgency efforts of the military.

The Super Tucanos will also complement the ground attack capabilities of the Korea Aerospace Industries-made FA-50 “Fighting Eagles” which were used during the five-month Marawi Siege in 2017.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Navy (PN) announced recently  that the BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151) positively passed its first sea trial conducted off Ulsan waters, South Korea last September 24-29.

BRP Antonio Luna is the Philippine Navy (PN)’s second missile-frigate after the BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150). Its  delivery was originally set this month but was delayed to January or February 2921 due to the prioritization of the Covid-19 response.

The new frigate will boost the PN’s anti-air warfare (AAW), anti-surface warfare (ASUW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW), and electronic warfare (EW) capabilities.

The Philippine Army (PA), for its part, recently received two Robinson R-44 “Raven” light training helicopters from anonymous donors. Army commander, Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, led the commissioning of the two new assets at the Aviation Regiment in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija last October 6.

The light choppers will be used for aviation regiment training as the army looks forward to acquiring additional aircraft in the coming years. Under the AFP Modernization Program, the PA also has light tanks and self-propelled artillery in the pipeline.

Apart from defeating terrorist groups, military assets were also utilized in Covid-19 containment efforts. Military vehicles were deployed to distribute 2.4 million food packs nationwide and accommodate passengers.

Moreover, 1,094 military personnel, 1,054 civilians and 230 foreigners, and 781,800 kilograms of cargoes were transported through 741 flight missions.

Meanwhile, 15 naval vessels were used to conduct sealift operations and transport military personnel, civilians, and around 433 thousand kilograms of cargoes.

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